Voice Actor Discusses the ‘Platinum Lining’ Behind His Throat Cancer Diagnosis


Rob Paulsen is the voice behind many beloved cartoon characters, but after receiving a cancer diagnosis, he discovered a whole new way to relate to others.

In 2016, Rob Paulsen, who was the voice behind famous cartoon characters such as Yakko from “the Animaniacs,” Pinky from “Pinky and the Brain” and others, was diagnosed with stage 3 metastatic squamous cell carcinoma of the throat. While this could have been a devastating diagnosis – especially in his line of work – Paulsen sees his cancer experience not with a silver lining, not with a gold lining, but with a platinum lining.

Not only was his voice largely unaffected by the cancer and its treatments, but Paulsen's diagnosis also gave him a new voice of sorts, one that can spread information and awareness and better relate to people who have gone through difficult health situations. Paulsen is doing this in part through CURE’s Ambassador Program, where he will continue to share his journey.


Hi, my name is Rob Paulson, and for the next – I don't know, year, hopefully longer – I am privileged to be able to contribute blog posts here on the CURE® Magazine website. Rob Paulson, why should that name mean anything to you? Unless of course you're with the IRS, in which case, please don't find me. But the other reason that it might mean something to you – actually, it probably means nothing to you.

But, Yakko Warner from "Animaniacs" may mean something to you. Hello nurse! Or maybe Pinky – "Pinky and the Brain." No. I've done that one too. And oh, yeah, Carl Wheezer from "Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius." He's out there, and in here, banging around in my cabeza. And not one, but two "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles." Raphael from when you guys were very young. Well, not you sir. You look much older than I. But the rest of you were very young. And then Donatello from a 2012 - 2016 iteration on Nickelodeon. So, yeah, I make my living doing essentially what got me in trouble in seventh grade. I do cartoon voices for a living.

We make plans, and God laughs. Allow me to explain. I'm also a survivor of stage 3 metastatic squamous cell carcinoma of the throat. Five years ago, at this time, I was undergoing treatment for that particular malady, and I'm fine. My particular cancer experience has not a gold lining (or) a silver lining. It has a platinum lining, my friends, for many reasons. Particularly because I do make my living with my throat, my voice. These fine folks at CURE® Magazine have given me this glorious opportunity to talk about it in the hopes that we might be able to spread some information. I can give you chapter and verse about my particular type of cancer. And now my sense of empathy is so keen that when I say to someone virtually, or literally holding their hand, "I get it," I really do. And I know there are many of you out there hopefully watching this who get the same experience, who have had the same experience.

So, I am really looking forward to this opportunity. I've found that when I do have the chance to speak to people about cancer, about empathy, kindness, courage, love, it seems all of that stuff can come from the most unexpected places, including cartoon characters.

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